Ryder getting himself sorted out in Boston
Ottawa Senators' forward Chris Kelly (left) attempts to push Boston Bruins' winger Michael Ryder off the puck during NHL action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Saturday. Ryder has five points in his first seven games with the Bruins. Photo by The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - There comes a time for most professional athletes when they have to pick up and move their entire lives to another city, and Michael Ryder - despite back-to-back 30-goal seasons in Montreal - is no exception.
The 28-year-old Bonavista native, who was signed by the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, has to couple settling in a new city with bringing his production up to the level he enjoyed with the Canadiens two years ago.
"I don't even really know the area yet," Ryder said of his new home during a stop in Ottawa last weekend. "I just know how to get from home to the practice rink and back.
"I don't really have much stuff at my place in Boston, so I'm trying to sort everything out. Once the place in Montreal gets sold, I'll have my stuff out of there and it will be a lot easier."
Ryder's father Wayne and some friends were in Ottawa for the Bruins' game against the Senators, in which Ryder earned an assist in a 4-2 win.
They were then going to drive Ryder's belongings down to Boston and watch the Bruins play the Pittsburgh Penguins in their home opener. The Bruins lost that game 2-1 in a shootout.
In addition to the physical change in address, Ryder - who has a goal and four assists through the Bruins' first six games - has also needed to adjust to his new surroundings on the ice.
Considering he faced the Bruins up to eight times a year in the regular season during his four-year tenure with the Canadiens, being around the black and gold jerseys wasn't a foreign concept for Ryder. These days, however, the players wearing those colours have his back, and aren't targeting his No. 73.
"I didn't know anybody here. It all started from scratch," said Ryder, who has been logged a lot time on the top line with Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson after signing a three-year, $12-million deal July 1.
"The guys are easy to get to know and the boys were very welcoming, so it didn't take long. It was only a week - probably not even that long - and I knew everybody here."
The right-winger said the chemistry of the team, outside of hockey, is open, with many of the players willing to tag along during down time.
"If somebody on the team is doing something, a lot of us will just go with them," Ryder said. "There's not a lot of cliques or anything, but the season just started, so by the end of the year, there might be different groups of friends."
He said he eats a lot of post-game meals with teammates Shawn Thornton - a former St. John's Maple Leaf - Shane Hnidy and P.J. Axelsson, adding his meal options are wide open, but cites sushi as a favourite.
Although he hasn't had much time to dig in to Beantown, Ryder said he enjoys that the spotlight he experienced in Montreal has dimmed a little in Boston.
On the other side of the coin, however, is the added pressure to perform in a city that boasts recent championships in each of the other three big-league sports - the Celtics and Red Sox are defending champions in their respective sports, while the New England Patriots have also enjoyed recent success.
"It's good in a way because you can go out and do your thing and not have to worry about people following you," he said of being a new Bruin. "You definitely get a little more privacy.
"If we play well and get a bigger fan base, it will be great. They love their sports in Boston, and they love their Bruins. Every other team (in Boston) is a winning team, so we have to make sure we stay on that track."